26 May 2014

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

What style of leadership works best? It’s an age old argument contested by businesspeople on both sides of the fence. Does it take an extrovert to rally the troops or does a softer approach get better results? Personally, I don’t think you have to be bolshy to motivate people. Success isn’t down to who shouts the loudest; in fact, it’s quite often the opposite.

volumeIf I look at some of our directors, even Rudi and Charlotte, who head up Sales and Account Management respectively, it’s clear that they are mainly quite quiet, controlled people who lead and motivate their teams in this manner and consistently hit their targets. It just goes to show that you don’t need to throw your weight around to make things happen.

I actually learnt this lesson from Richard Branson out on Necker. He asked if anyone wanted to play Perudo and, not knowing what I was getting myself into, I agreed to take on the Perudo champion! After explaining how it worked, Richard then went on to beat me – several times. Then, with a smile on his face he simply said: “It hurts, doesn’t it?” When I asked him what he meant, he replied: “That feeling you have inside you now. It hurts.”

He had honed in on the thing he knew would motivate me, making me focus on the feeling of having lost, something he might later have regretted, as I went on to win most of the games we played after that! The experience made me realise that you can be highly motivated by someone talking in a very quiet, gentle manner, and I really took that lesson back to the boardroom with me. Whilst there’s a time for passionate pep talks, there’s a risk that they’ll lose their effect if you constantly operate on that level. You don’t always have to shout to be heard.

What style of leadership do you prefer?

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